Markos Kyprianou, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, will visit Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, during an official tour of South East Asia from 6-16 November to discuss avian influenza and other issues.

The European Commission said bird flu, which has been endemic in parts of the region since 2003, will be high on the Commissioner's agenda during his trip. He will meet with senior leaders and ministers to discuss the current avian influenza situation in each country and the measures being taken by the national authorities and international partners to address the problem. Other issues that Kyprianou will be discussing during his ten-day trip include food safety and sanitary and phytosanitary issues (SPS), and certain public health issues such as AIDS.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to visit South East Asia to understand first hand the dimension of the avian influenza problem there and to emphasise to my counterparts the EU's commitment to supporting the region in its fight against avian influenza," Kyprianou said.

"The EU recognises that, no matter where it strikes, avian influenza is a global problem that calls for a coordinated global response. We will do everything we can to help the countries of South East Asia in this regard. Next week's conference in Geneva on avian influenza provides an important opportunity to identify the global needs and the resources that can be made available," he added.